Old Favourites and Favourite Gadgets

When we were in England, people asked us what we missed about Spain. Mostly it was the light, which sounds odd, I think people expected us to say “the sun”.  We missed family and friends of course, we missed the gatherings and fiestas. But we knew we’d be back and we were having fun too.

I missed being able to cook “properly”, I didn’t have all my gadgets with me, so being back in my fully equipped kitchen with my hand blender, my food processor and my terracotta bowls has allowed me to make some old favourites.

Salmorejo (do click on the link for the recipe and a “how to) is a summer favourite, and now that I can buy tomatoes without taking out a mortgage to do so, this will be made every few days.

Salmorejo (2)

Of course, I was able to make pil pil while in England, but it does taste so much better when cooked in the traditional terracotta bowl. And just to prove that you can “pil pil” so many different things, this week I did clams.

Almejas al Pil Pil (3)

And sewing…oh sewing. How I missed my sewing machine. We’ve only been back a week but that wasn’t going to stop me getting my hands on some fabric gifted to me, and a beautiful pattern from the very talented Steph over at 3 Hours Past and making up her wonderful Tiramisu dress pattern. If you fancy making the wonderful dessert instead of the dress, do head over to Karen’s fabulous post which tells you how!

Flowers (2)

Steph designs and makes patterns for real women – curvy ones, slim ones, straight up and down ones.

Flowers (3)

The designs and patterns are beautiful with excellent instructions and I’m thrilled with my new summer dress.

Flowers (4)

My sourdough starter, courtesy of Sawsan’s “how to”, is bubbling away nicely, so at the weekend the mixer with the dough hook will be put to work and I think I’ll really feel like I’ve settled back in again properly.

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Fish Man has become Fish Lady! Mussels with Chorizo

A week, so it is said, is a long time in politics and an extended absence from the mountain is a long time in terms of what arrives at our doorstep. Bread Man was a bit all over the place for the first few days, but we seem to have settled back into a routine. I’m also getting going with my sourdough starter, using Sawsan’s brilliant tutorial, so I’ll let you know how my adventures in sourdough bread making go once I’m ready.

Fish deliveries continue but Fish Man has been replaced by a very jolly young lady who hails from Big Man’s home town, so she can clearly be trusted to bring us nothing but the best (according to Big Man). Yesterday she had some beautiful mussels, and for once they didn’t need too much scrubbing to get them ready for the pot.

A simple, hearty lunch of mussels with chorizo was made in minutes, and thanks to Bread Man, we were able to mop up any juices that had escaped our slurping.

Mejillones con Chorizo (1)

Ingredients (for 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter)

  • 1kg cleaned mussels (discard any broken or open shells)
  • 4 cloves of garlic peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh chorizo sausages (or about 30cm of dried chorizo) sliced
  • A small glass of white wine
  • Freshly chopped parsley and lemon wedges to serve

Simply sauté the chorizo until it starts to brown (no olive oil needed usually as chorizo is quite fatty) then add the garlic. Stir into the oil for a minute or so until it starts to soften then add the mussels and wine (or a glass of water if you don’t like to cook with alcohol). Cover with a lid and continue to cook for a few more minutes until all the shells are open.

Serve with all the juices poured over, sprinkle over the parsley and let each person add lemon juice to taste. ¡Buen provecho!

What I See From My Back Porch

Our lovely friend Miss C from The Kitchen’s Garden set us a challenge yesterday. She asked her Fellowship of the Farmy Friends to share their views from their back porches, or windows, or balconies.

Celia, you don’t know how good this has been for me. arriving back from the UK at the weekend and facing yet more DIY due to damp and winter damage, really dragged me down. It’s being dealt with right now, but for a moment I lost sight of what being back Up Our Mountain is all about. Blogging (and real life) Pal Claire from Promenade Plantings nudged me today to join in. Thank you ladies.

I stepped outside my back door just a few minutes ago, away from the mayhem in the house, and snapped. I didn’t set up the camera properly, I just snapped. And then I took the camera away from my eyes and really looked. And then I cried. Happy tears, not sad ones.

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This is what it’s all about…now I remember how blessed we really are.

Groundhog Day Peperonata

If you haven’t seen the film Groundhog Day, you won’t know what I’m talking about. In summary, it’s about a man who wakes up each morning and experiences the same day over and over and over again. Of course, he learns from his experiences and it all ends well.

When we got back Up the Mountain we were dreaming of months of rest and long lazy days which did not involve DIY, house repairs or anything to do with a paintbrush. There was a slightly damp smell in the house which we put down to the very wet winter which Andalucía has experienced and the fact that our house has been unheated and unlived in for quite some time.

Alas, we were deluding ourselves and some damage caused a few years back by a leak in the roof plus the wet winter has caused a significant amount of damp, particularly in my beloved “despensa” or larder.  Today we had to remove everything, including the shelving, from the despensa.

Groundhog Day (2)

The house is in chaos and we are climbing over things to get from one place to another. It will all be put right soon, I know, but I think we both had a moment or two today of wanting to run away and hide from it all.

Groundhog Day (3)

Salvation lay in the freezer and with the arrival of Fish Man with fresh calamares.  Last summer’s produce was tucked into the freezer and there it awaits us.  I cooked a quick peperonata (for which there are quite possibly as many recipes as there are Italian Mammas) and served it with calamares cooked on the griddle pan and drizzled with our olive oil and some sweet balsamic vinegar.

Ingredients for the Peperonata (serves 4) Serve hot or cold

  • About 500g of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large onion finely sliced
  • About 4-6 large peppers (use a mix of colours if you can) cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2-3 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • A small glass of red wine (optional)
  • Fresh herbs (I used oregano but basil is also good)
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning

Peperonata (3)

Simmer the garlic and onions in a little oil until soft, then add the peppers. Turn up the heat and fry until the edges of the peppers start to turn brown.  Add the tomatoes, herbs and wine (if using) season lightly and simmer for about 30 minutes until reduced and the sauce thick and the peppers starting to melt.

Squid with Balsamic (1)

Taste and adjust the seasoning and remove any large pieces of herbs. Great too stirred into pasta but I love it best eaten cold with a little squeeze of lemon juice and plenty of crusty bread.

For a quick lesson on how to clean squid (calamares) if you can’t find it ready prepared, take a look here.

Ok, lunch break over, back to work Chica!

We’re back Up Our Mountain!

Yes, we’re back! Not quite from outer space, but it’s been a long time. It was a long and horrible journey and we arrived late last night. I just wanted to say a quick “hello” to you all, show you one little snap of the kitchen (not quite finished, but nearly there) taken the night before we left.

Forgot to take the protective film off the chimney hood, so it's ot such a funky colour really..oh yes, and we haven't painted the picture rail yet either...
Forgot to take the protective film off the chimney hood, so it’s not such a funky colour really…and the over the counter lights need to be connected…oh yes, and we haven’t painted the picture rail yet either…

We managed to have a little housewarming party for Big Man’s Birthday and to say a proper hello and thank you to all our lovely new Bexhill friends and neighbours.

Toli's Birthday 2013 (29)

Toli's Birthday 2013 (63)

I’m very, very behind on posting, reading and commenting but we now have months and months of catching up, relaxing, cooking, sewing, eating and vegetable growing to look forward to, so once I’ve caught my breath….I’ll be back properly!  Thanks for all your kind words of support over the last few months and for sticking with me.  What good pals you all are, I need to organise another little party….

Leaving Home Leftovers, or Fridge Foraging

So…tomorrow we move from house renovation Number 2 into our little second home by the sea. It’s been a long 9 months on and off between England and Spain and in other ways it’s flown by. What an experience, we’re lucky to have had it!

The plan is to head back to Spain in about 2 weeks and take a very long rest until we head back to England late autumn and do it all over again. Of course, now it’s become a joint enterprise/job for us and we plan to continue this way for another year or two. Who would have thought this City Slicka turned Chica Andaluza would now become a Lady Builder (as one of my neighbours calls me)?!

I was a sad Chica becuase all the windows and doors were rotten and had to come out
I was a sad Chica because all the windows and doors were rotten and had to come out

Moving on from one home to another, even if it was only a temporary one, still involves packing up belongings that have accumulated (mostly in the kitchen, I confess) and the little flat is starting to look like home as the furniture goes in.

Coming to terms with the new French Doors
Coming to terms with the new French Doors

And in the same way as a major move, or before the start of a holiday you have to clean the fridge out. Well, you have to eat the contents first before you clean and for people like Chgo John who makes Frittata, this is a challenge which is risen to with pleasure. As we have no chickies here to feed, there were vegetable delights to be made.  Here are a few ideas, not exactly recipes, for those days when you need to go shopping but still have a few things to finish off, or you’re eating the contents of your fridge before a holiday or a house move!

Finally...loving the light in our new kitchen!
Finally…loving the light in our new kitchen!

First up was a salad using up cold boiled potatoes, an avocado which wouldn’t last another day, a bag of spinach and a handful of mushrooms. The potatoes were lightly sautéed then the sliced mushrooms added until they were cooked. The spinach was chopped then added and a lid put over the pan until it wilted. Chopped avocado was stirred in and the whole things was dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Spinach & Mushrooms (2)

The next day leftover cooked green beans were stir fried with mushrooms and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice while still warm and the zest of a lemon grated over for extra “oomph”.

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Finally, a few rashers of grilled bacon made a light supper salad dish with rocket, raw spinach, avocado, baby plum tomatoes and chunks of fresh parmesan and a dressing made with mustard. On the side we ate grilled ciabatta rubbed with a clove of garlic and then drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with rock salt.

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I suspect tomorrow may well have to be a take away…well, the fridge is empty!